Behind every brand is a brand strategy, which helps inform the different choices you make as a business.
Your brand strategy is made up of several elements, like the voice you use to speak to your target audience or the values that drive you forward. Below, we share the different elements of a compelling brand strategy, and why each one uniquely contributes to building a strong brand.
What is brand strategy?
A brand strategy is the holistic approach behind how a brand shows up to its customers (and potential customers). A brand strategy encompasses several different brand elements like voice, storytelling, brand identity, brand values, and overall vibe.
If your brand is how you present your business to the world, your branding strategy is the scaffolding that holds it up.
Why is developing a branding strategy important?
A strong brand is critical for building connections with customers. A successful brand strategy can help improve loyalty, drive brand awareness, build repeat business, and inspire word-of-mouth marketing and referrals.
Brands without effective brand strategies can become diluted, weak, or forgettable. Without a knockout product experience (and even with one) it’s easy for customers to move on rather than commit to a repeat purchase.
Elements of a strong brand strategy
Brand voice, brand design, brand values, brand story, and brand vibe are the key elements of a successful brand strategy. Below, we’ll walk you through each one, describe what it is, and why each bolsters the experience your brand creates for new and existing customers.
Your brand story is the narrative you use to communicate essential moments in your business’s origin story, core beliefs and values, and the purpose of your business.
Brand stories further spark connection between your business and customer base. By sharing why you exist, what you stand for, and what inspired you to get started and keep going, you create an open environment where people can get to know your business on a deeper level.
How Fly by Jing tells its brand story on its website
Fly by Jing’s flagship product is its all-natural Sichuan chili crisp, and the brand also sells other sauces, dumplings, and spices.
Its brand story takes center stage on its website, sharing why founder Jing Gao started the company: inspiration from the flavors and “fly restaurants” of Chengdu, her hometown. Fly By Jing’s website shares the brand’s values, like “power to empower” and “deeply personal,” taking a stance on why it believes its products are so important.
Finally, Jing notes that the flavors of each item share her own story, intertwining a narrative with the actual product experience. Not only does this entice a new customer to buy it, it nods to the care that goes into each product.
The words and phrases a brand uses to communicate with current or customers, across different marketing channels and on its website, is called brand voice.
A brand’s voice informs the type of brand messaging that a business uses. It often plays the biggest role in forming connections with a customer base by fusing a brand’s personality with a brand’s core values. A strong brand voice might remind you of your sarcastic best friend, kind teacher, or reassuring doctor. It sets the tone for the relationship that a customer will build with a brand over time, and what they can expect from it. A brand that doesn’t carve out a personality-filled voice risks losing that connection, or sending a different message than it truly wants to.
Creating an internal style guide for brand voice ensures it will show up consistently.
How Sun Bum captures its brand stance via brand voice
A sunscreen business that originated in Cocoa Beach, Florida, Sun Bum is as much a community of those who “live and love in the sun” as it is a line of sun, hair, and skincare. Sun Bun’s brand voice underscores its laid-back and active ethos with taglines like “Work Less Live More,” balancing this friendly tone of voice with important messaging around sun protection.
The result? A brand voice that builds connections with customers while earning their trust.
How your business shows up visually—from color palette to fonts to photography style—on your products, website, and on your marketing platforms is called brand design, and it’s often the first and quickest way that a potential customer within your target market can understand what you’re all about.
Great brand design can be communicated via a sunscreen bottle with chic packaging, a bright label easily recognized at the grocery store, or fun shapes and elements on a website. Aside from speaking to what your brand is all about, brand design also illustrates a point of view and taste level. A potential customer might love your brand partly because of the way you package and design your products, or because of the colorful templates you send out with an email newsletter. Like art, brand design can draw an emotional response. Andy Warhol famously turned one brand’s packaging into pop art when he painted an array of Campbell’s Soup cans.
A lack of design can leave your brand without a visual identity, which prospective customers will pick up on. Designing the visual components of your brand—from product labels to packaging inserts to your homepage—gives it a stronger position in the market, can improve customer experience, creates a strong visual identity, and can help differentiate you from your competitors.
Elements of brand design should also appear in a brand style guide alongside tone of voice specifications; as it pertains to a visual identity, this includes color hex codes, font weights and styles, logo usage, and more.
How Acid League and Salt & Stone capture different moods with brand design
A self-proclaimed “instant pantry makeover,” Acid League’s living vinegars and other acid-forward essentials bring a contemporary aesthetic to everyday kitchen condiments. Its bright, punchy labels mirror the bold flavors the brand infuses into its gut-healthy product line.
Acid League is on a mission to revive acid: “We started by reimagining vinegar, creating living vinegars with both bold flavors and good gut health benefits,” the shop prints on its website.
Its colorful, playful label designs help reinforce a strong brand identity: bright colors, bold fonts, and crisp text make the product line stand out online and on store shelves.
Salt & Stone, a performance skincare business, on the other hand, keeps design minimalistic and sleek to echo the peace of mind its products seek to provide potential customers. This also reflects the simple, powerful, and clean nature of the ingredients the company uses in each of its products, again demonstrating how a strong visual identity can additionally reinforce a brand’s core values.
Why does your company exist? What matters most to you? Are there causes that your business is actively working to solve?
Questions like these help get at the heart of your brand’s values, or the beliefs and principles that guide your business.
Brand values become the parameters that help you discern if a decision or partnership fits the goals of your business, help you build connections with your community, and find potential customers who share similar beliefs. They also help with your brand positioning, as a brand’s values can be a main differentiator for you.
Brand values are often codified via brand guidelines, which are often used in tandem with a style guide. In addition to tone of voice and visual identity requirements, brand guidelines may include a mission statement, spell out a brand’s core values, and share do’s and don’ts for how to appear on social media and other content marketing channels.
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How Saie uses the “feel good five” brand values to drive decision making
Clean makeup brand Saie established a framework for its brand values called the “feel good five.” These five values represent the criteria that the business uses to evaluate its products. Communicating them to both existing and new customers ensures they understand the care and thoughtfulness that goes into each one.
The Saie brand values include: conscious, luxurious, earth-minded, award winning, and new.
Establishing brand values gives you a sense of direction and purpose. Communicating those values clearly and often allows your community to connect with those values and purchase products from brands they truly believe in. And that can drive a greater sense of customer loyalty.
A brand’s vibe is the general sentiment it emits on its website, social media channels, product packaging, etc. The vibe could be anything from playful to sarcastic to serious to funny, and is an amalgamation of the ways that a brand’s personality, values, and aesthetic line up.
If you’ve ever been to Palm Springs, or a craft coffee shop, you can sense a certain feeling or energy the moment you arrive. While many businesses operate online these days, it’s still possible to inject a specific vibe into the way someone feels when they interact with yours.
Creating a vibe contributes to the overall customer experience with your brand, and it can leave a more memorable, lasting impression.
How Baggu captures a real vibe
Baggu sells all sorts of colorful printed bags, from foldable grocery totes to lunchbox sized coolers. Its website is playful, funky, and it isn’t afraid to have fun with the marketing copy throughout. Puns and fun language like “Keep those socks from floating off into the ether” keep things light.
Great brand strategy is all about the feelings
Successful brand strategies inspire a sense of connection through honest values, a brand voice that captures the essence of the brand, and design that reflects a business’s true personality.
Strong brand connection builds relationships, which can inspire repeat business. And your biggest fans will become your biggest advocates.
A great brand identity sets you up for success for the long term.
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Brand strategy FAQ
What is a brand strategy?
A brand strategy is the holistic approach behind how a brand shows up to its customers (and potential customers). A brand strategy encompasses several different brand elements like voice, storytelling, brand identity, brand values, and overall vibe. If your brand is how you present your business to the world, your branding strategy is the scaffolding that holds it up.
What are the elements of a strong brand strategy?
The five elements of a good brand strategy are:
- Brand story
- Brand voice
- Brand design
- Brand values
- Brand vibe
Featured image via Mika Baumeister on Unsplash